Comment: Rafael Nadal Is Phenomenal
Rafael Nadal captures the French Open for the eleventh time in his legendary career defeating Dominic Thiem in straight sets.
PARIS – For the eleventh time in the French Open final, Rafa Nadal was imperial, phenomenal, brutal, special, sensational, exceptional and triumphal. The fact that the Spaniard was able to clinch “La Undécima” is the most unreal and at the same time natural conclusion of this year’s Roland Garros.
Nadal won all of the eleven finals that he contested in Paris. He was never pushed to the fifth set, winning six championship matches in four sets and five in straight sets. In this year’s final, the 32-year-old Manacor native wasn’t fazed by the challenge presented by a younger and fresher opponent – Dominic Thiem of Austria. 64, 63, 62 was the score in Nadal’s favor. Last year Rafa defeated Dominic 63, 64, 60 in the semifinals.
24-year-old Thiem went into the final with “a plan to beat Rafa”. Since the Austrian managed to execute that plan for three times in previous tour matches against Nadal on clay, he had plenty of reasons to believe that he could do it again. Unfortunately, his high hopes started fading away right at the beginning of the match, with Rafa winning the first six points and sprinting to a 2-0 lead.
Even if Thiem broke back, the Austrian lost serve again at 5-4, which allowed Nadal to capture the first set. In the second, Rafa jumped to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. The second and third sets proved to be even more convincing from Rafa.
This is Grand Slam title No. 17 for Nadal, three behind Roger Federer’s 20. Had Nadal lost the final, he would have allowed his Swiss rival to regain the No. 1 spot. As a matter of fact, if Roger plays well next week in Stuttgart where he lost early last year, the Swiss will be back at the top of the rankings. “I am not obsessed with chasing Federer,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference. “I am super happy with my career and I consider myself very lucky. I don’t look at what other players have achieved, I only focus on myself. I have the ambition to become a better player every single day and I will continue to play until I am capable of doing that.”
Nadal at his best is unbeatable on clay. His physical strength, left-handed spin and powerful arm allow him to hit hard and deep even from 8 or 9 feet behind the baseline. His ability to counterpunch and stepping inside the court to hit his devastating forehand is unmatched. It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net.
Rafa’s strategy is also impeccable from a tactical point of view. He never chooses the wrong shot. At Roland Garros, he lost only 2 matches in 13 years against Soderling in 2009 and Djokovic in 2015. Overall in his career, he won 111 of the 113 clay-court matches that he contested in the best of five format.
We all wonder when the king of Manacor will eventually relinquish his throne and stop dominating his younger and older competition in almost embarrassing fashion. In the meantime, let’s honor Rafa XI “le roi de Paris.”
(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )